THE VIRGIN CARMEN

THE CHICHIMECAS

This photo was taken at a festival last year for The Virgin Carmen. These are Chichimeca dancers. My
husband participated in the festival by helping carry Our Lady through the town. She is the patron
saint of the Chichimecas.

The Chichimeca people who seem to be all but forgotten. They are still alive and well today. My husband of thirty years is a Chichimeca. The one thing that bothers me is 
that it seems no matter where you are born if you belong to a Native indigenous tribe 
you have to be numbered or logged into some ones book. There has to be a record 
kept of your family. I find this insulting. Just like the Native Americans who have been 
placed on rolls so are the Chichimeca. My husband’s family is logged in a history book 
as decedents of the Chichimeca’s.

This whole thing started because my husband wanted me to do a family tree for him. I 
knew he came from a native back ground, what I didn’t know was that it was recorded 
in a government book somewhere. When my son was a baby I asked my in-laws about 
my husband’s heritage. I wanted to know for my son. They both told me they were 
Indios (Indian). My mother-in-law said she has a little Spanish on her father’s side. My 
Father-in-law who didn’t talk much just told us it was written down. I thought he meant 
some of the family had written the family information down, I didn’t know it was kept in 
a record book by the government. I just don’t understand the need to put labels on 
folks. To me this is degrading and insulting. I’m not going to get into that rant here so 
on we go.

The name Chichimeca covers more than one indigenous people, but I am using it here 
because that is what is on my husbands paper work.

Who are the Chichimeca? They are a Native indigenous people with a rich history and 
culture that deserve respect and further study. Chichimeca refers to the native 
indigenous populations of North America, specifically those of the United States, 
Canada, and Northern Mexico in the state of Guanajuato. How long have the 
Chichimecas been here? Evidence has been found in places like Friesenhahn Cave 
(in Texas) and Santa Rosa Island (in California) that dates back as far as 25,000 and 
30,000 years ago. Around 1550 the Chichimeca war started and was the longest war 
between North American Indians and the European armies; the war lasted for 50 years. 
The Chichimecas were a powerful force to be reckoned with.

After the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, they set out to claim the land north where 
Mexico City is today they started a murder and slave campaign. Unfortunately for the 
Spanish they were met the fierce Chichimeca. The Chichimeca made the Spanish lose 
their hunger for war. They were the only indigenous people who were never 
conquered by a European army. This forced the Spanish to make a treaty with the 
Chichimecas; they offered them farmland and Spanish goods in return for peace. The 
Chichimecas were brave, warlike, treacherous and destructive. They held a grudge 
and they refused to give up. This makes them a very powerful people.

The people of Guanajuato continue on as their indigenous ancestors did. While most 
of the languages and cultures have disappeared or been mingled with the central 
Hispanic culture, the people of Guanajuato have held on to the legacy of their 
ancestors. The culture of the indigenous people of pre-Hispanic Guanajuato will 
endure and live on forever.

I asked my husband about the language his family speaks, the first time I went to their 
home thirty years ago I notice that it was different from the Spanish I had heard. He 
told me then it was Slang. After getting his paper work and doing some research I 
asked him again. He told me that some consider it slang because it is not the proper 
way of speaking. The schools are trying to teach the children the proper way to speak. 
I told him it wasn’t slang that it is the language of his people, of course he knows that. 
He was trying to explain to me how others look at their language. I am on a fact finding 
mission and will add more information to this page as I speak to family members. So 
keep checking the page for new information.